Linda Lewis, Backing Singer For Bowie and Rod Stewart Passed Away At 72
viaSpotlight Music Show / Youtube
On Wednesday, Linda Lewis, an accomplished backing singer who worked with David Bowie, Rod Stewart, and other artists, passed away at the age of 72. The confirmation of her passing came through a social media post by her sister, Dee Lewis Clay.
Clay expressed profound sadness and regret as she shared the news, informing that Linda Lewis peacefully passed away at her home. Clay’s heartfelt message highlighted Linda’s beloved presence and described her as a beautiful soul.
Early Beginnings, Beatles, and Changing Fate
Lewis, originally named Linda Ann Fredericks, was born in West Ham, a region in East London. She embarked on an acting career at a young age, making her appearances in the 1961 film “A Taste of Honey” and as one of the enthusiastic fans of the Beatles’ movie “A Hard Day’s Night” in 1964.
During the early ’60s, she even had the opportunity to perform “Dancing in the Street” alongside John Lee Hooker at a club near London.
In an interview with Blues & Soul, Lewis later recalled the experience, mentioning that it took place in 1961 during the afternoon while she was accompanied by her mother. She initially had no knowledge of John Lee Hooker but, encouraged by her mother, she mustered the courage to approach him and sing.
Interestingly, it was during this encounter that Hooker introduced her to a musician named Ian Samwell, who, in turn, introduced her to manager Don Arden. It was during this period that she decided to change her surname to Lewis as a way to pay tribute to the R&B singer Barbara Lewis.
Lewis collaborated with several bands in the late 1960s, including White Rabbit and the Ferris Wheel. She also made an appearance at the inaugural Glastonbury Festival, where she performed alongside Terry Reid and David Lindley. While she secured a solo contract with Warner Bros. Records, she primarily devoted her time to working as a session musician.
Notably, she lent her vocals to albums such as Cat Stevens’ Catch Bull at Four (1972), Bowie’s Aladdin Sane (1973), Hummingbird’s self-titled debut (1975), Rick Wakeman’s Lisztomania (1975), Stewart’s Blondes Have More Fun (1978), and Tonight I’m Yours (1981), among others.
In 1973, she achieved success as a solo artist with a self-written song titled “Rock-a-Doodle-Doo,” which reached the 15th position on the U.K. chart. Reflecting on her transition to songwriting, Lewis mentioned being inspired by Joni Mitchell and Laura Nyro, realizing the potential of creating her own music.
Prior to that, she had been performing covers in soul revues while wearing long dresses, but she desired to showcase her original songs. Two years later, she experienced an even greater triumph when her cover of “The Shoop Shoop Song (It’s in His Kiss)” reached the sixth position on the charts.
Musical Journey and Reflections
Lewis launched a total of six albums in the 1970s and an additional one in the 1980s before largely withdrawing from public appearances. However, she did make a comeback by performing at Glastonbury in 1984 and made a reappearance in 1992 to contribute vocals to Joan Armatrading’s album, Square the Circle.
Reflecting on her life, Lewis expressed in her memoir (as reported by The Guardian) that she had led an exceptionally fulfilling life. Although given the opportunity, she wouldn’t choose to relive it entirely, there were certain aspects she would willingly experience again.